If you're responsible for an organization, a business or even a family, you will eventually deal with a financial crisis of some sort. Maybe it's a mistake on the checking account balance, an unforeseen expense, a drop in revenue . . . all of these scenarios can and will cause some stress. If you're not careful, they will cause anxiety.
Here are some easy steps to keep in mind when a financial crisis happens:
Be proactive by eliminating possible financial variables beforehand.
Our brains like to find and manage a crisis. If you don't have something for your brain to work on, it will find something on its own. Sometimes your brain “daydreams” on something. That's normal. It's trying to stay busy.
What you don't want to do is to have your brain try to find something else to think about when you are dealing with a financial crisis. Instead, you want to discipline your brain to think about the important situation and the facts on hand.
For example, there are a lot of people who neglect to balance their checkbook every month when the statement comes in. Instead, they let it go for a while – maybe a couple of months or more. Their logic is that they'll deal with it “when I have time” or when something bad happens.
So when something bad happens, they have to get caught up on the work they have on balancing their checkbook, and then they're dealing with whatever crisis is happening. In many cases, the brain is actually enjoying this increased activity, but the person's emotions are going off the rails.
Eliminate variables and distractions. Plan for your responsibilities so that you don't have increased anxiety as you try to manage a crisis.
Avoid negative self-talk.
There is a difference between who you are and what you do. Focus on what you did, and not who you are. If you focus on what you did, you will get through the anxious moments a whole lot easier. If you focus on who you are, you run the chance of being ashamed. Being ashamed drives the anxiety feelings, and it also allows you to dive into a negative emotional spiral. Acknowledge the situation for what it is, and then manage it.
Most of us hated report cards when we were students in school. The main reason why we hated them is because we put a lot of self-worth on the grades that were posted. Not only did they grade our performance, but they also graded our worth in society. Get good grades, and you were going to be successful in life . . . at least that's what we were taught in some schools. So now we don't deal with report cards, but we deal with account balances. If you're successful, you're supposed to have lots of money in the bank. So now our account balances are the new report cards.
The truth is that this thought process is really dangerous. Things happen, which are not always our fault. We have unforeseen expenses that come up. Sure, we need to put money back for them, but there are still some expenses that can't be planned. Instead, focus on the important matters and make a point to review better strategies for the future when the crisis is over.
Don't beat yourself up for a bad decision – make a resolution to do better the next time. In the meanwhile, remind yourself that you can manage this situation effectively with the right strategy – and then build that strategy.
Do yourself a favor and figure out what you need to do. Sit down and build a plan. Don't try to “wing it” and make rash decisions. Instead, get all of the information you need and then begin building a strategy of what you need to do to manage the crisis well. When you feel like the anxiety is growing, that may be a sign that your brain is trying to resolve a problem in your subconscious thinking. Take a break and see if you can figure out what's going on in that specific area.
Additionally, use systems that you are familiar with. Avoid trying to do things that are completely unfamiliar, if at all possible. Don't try to change everything in a crisis. Instead, find the “constants” of the things you know and start working with them first. Then eliminate variables as you go forward. You'll find that you will have increased clarity as your brain focuses on the pattern you are setting up and then wanting to maintain.
And to avoid anxiety in the future . . .
Pay your bills and manage your financial responsibilities on days and weeks which you schedule beforehand. Be ahead of due dates so that you have plenty of time to get your work done. Sit down and review your performance on a regular basis. Celebrate successes and acknowledge defeats.
When your brain gets into a habit, it reduces anxious feelings. It remembers that you're doing this work on a regular basis and it doesn't have to expend more energy. Considering that the brain takes the majority of fuel to operate, it is always trying to figure out how to reduce energy consumption. If it finds a needed increase, it can and will create anxiety to stop you from doing whatever it was you did to make it burn more energy. So plan ahead and budget your tasks as well as your money.
The added benefit of having systems in place is the assurance that the important things are getting done properly. No one likes waking up at night, thinking that they forgot something and now they're in trouble. Instead, we like to relax and be assured that everything is in order and that there are no problems developing. Give your brain a break and manage it well to reduce financial anxiety.
What do you think? What works for you in regards to reducing financial anxiety?